Some Hybrid Statistics, Pessimism Politics, Etc.

Sales of hybrid-engine cars in the U.S. will grow by 268 percent between 2005 and 2012, says a new report from J.D. Power and Associates. So, does this mean hybrids will constitute a major portion of the automotive market by then? Actually, no. Even after that robust growth, hybrids’ share of light-vehicle sales will be a mere 4.2 percent, vs. last year’s 1.3 percent. Hybrid sales will be spread among a much larger number of vehicle models—as many as 52, the research firm predicts, up from the current 11. And while hybrids got their start in the subcompact category, they’ll be available by 2012 in most segments.

What do high school girls seek in a prom date? Offering a limited menu of choices, a poll by Your Prom magazine found a plurality of girls saying he must be “Funny—you want to laugh” (44 percent), while 28 percent said “Hot—you want heads to turn.” Nineteen percent said he must be “A great dancer—you want to have fun.” Nine percent want him to be “Popular—you want access to all the VIP after-parties.” (Yikes!) Given a choice of celebs as “dream date,” the girls gave the most votes to Jesse McCartney (32 percent), with Orlando Bloom as runner-up (26 percent). Usher edged Adam Brody for third place (17 percent to 15 percent). Johnny Knoxville (10 percent) finished last.

Pagan though they may seem, today’s high schoolers are actually a religious bunch. In a national survey conducted by Hamilton College researchers in collaboration with Zogby International, high school seniors were asked how many times they’d attended religious services in the previous month. The 36 percent who said they didn’t do so a single time were outnumbered by the 40 percent who’d gone at least four times. Another 24 percent reported going to services one to three times in the past month. Elsewhere in the poll, the high schoolers were asked how many kids they’d ideally like to have. As you can see from the chart below, surprisingly few of them plan to forgo the joys (or whatever) of parenthood. If their offspring prove to be impediments to professional success, that’s not a problem. When the students were asked which is more important to them—”having a successful career or having a rewarding family life with children”—family life trounced career by 63 percent to 23 percent, with 13 percent volunteering that they want “both.”

We’re accustomed to a big partisan gap

when Americans are surveyed on matters of state. But a similarly vast gap has developed when people assess their personal prospects, to judge by ABC News/Washington Post polling. In its latest such survey (fielded last month), one query asked adults whether they’re more hopeful or more fearful about what 2006 “holds for you personally.” Eighty-four percent of Republicans put themselves in the “hopeful” class; 50 percent of Democrats did so. The figure for Republicans has changed little since the end of 2003, when 92 percent were personally hopeful for the year ahead. The “hopeful” total for Democrats has collapsed, though, from 82 percent in 2003—i.e., a time when many Democrats thought George W. Bush was bound to lose the 2004 election. So, a surge in Democrats’ personal optimism is likely, but not until the 2008 presidential election is on the near horizon.